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The Longest Now

Solitaire, sex, and architectures of collaboration
Sunday October 19th 2008, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I´m in Peru at the moment with Scott Ananian, so here´s a quick post from the recyclingbin of recent history:

Clay Shirky and Martin Wattenberg team up to battle the TIMEWARS villains.   They estimate that a weekend of commercials is 1 Wikipedia — 100 million hours of human attention.

That’s not quite right — Wikipedia is a living process, not only doubling in size, scope, and effort a little over once a year; its creation is not simply a matter of time invested, but networks formed, and social connections and research off-wiki that lead to the same.   And commercial watching may be passive… but the point stands.  And as I have noted before, Solitaire is an even more explicit example of this — an active way to waste time, which soaks up billions of hours of attention a year.

And let’s not forget the massive amounts of time spent on indulgences — sex and its trappings, food, artefactless social networking and the like — something which, like idle leisure time, balloons to fit the time available, in crisis and in plenty.   Most people have an extra 4 to 5 hours a day to devote to creative collaboration, especially if it satisfies their social and entertainment drives and overlaps neatly with / contributes to their work.  This comes to 300B hours a year, in our country alone.  This is among the greatest assets in the world, available equally to all; now go change society.

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